Category Archives: Caribbean Plus Lit News

Literary news of interest from the Caribbean and wider world

You and Your Wiki – Caribbean Writers Edition

Recently, Caribbean Reads publisher and author Carol Ottley-Mitchell posted an article headlined, ‘Are You Wiki Ready?

The post touched on the unreliability of some of the content on Wikipedia – its bug being its feature, the fact that anyone can update Wikipedia makes it a dynamic resource but also makes it an unreliable resource (or, at minimum, potentially so). It is for this reason that when coaching students on the use of Wikipedia, when teaching Media Writing or Communications, I’ve encouraged them to check the citations and to make sure that content is verifiable as accurate…while also emphasizing that cutting and pasting Wikipedia content is not researching (it’s plagiarizing which is legal-speak for stealing). But I digress.

Ottley-Mitchell’s post encouraged Caribbean writers to check their Wikipedia entry for accuracy, correcting and/or reporting any inaccuracies.

“Wikipedia is notoriously unreliable, but widely used and so it is important that all artists, (but of course our main concerns at CaribbeanReads are Caribbean artists), make sure they are accurately represented on this platform… And so, while we are not organizing an official ‘wikipedia editathon’ …we encourage Caribbean artists to join with other artists and set aside some time tomorrow to look up your profile on Wikipedia and make sure you are accurately and effectively represented. Also feel free to post here about what you found and what you changed.”

This post noted that “(Caribbean) writers often do not have pages or their pages are incomplete.” This is true (from general observation; I haven’t actually done a count).

I may have mentioned here before, perhaps when politicians in Antigua and Barbuda were giving out IT hardware (laptops and ipads) to students and teachers, that it might be simultaneously important to help shape the way we use the hardware. Encouraging a culture that creates and not merely consumes online content, for instance – and, Wikipedia entries seemed a good place to start, in my view, with research, preparation, and uploading. A version of what I do here on the blog when I profile artistes or create data lists (re published writers from Antigua and Barbuda etc) – which is why the blog has become a resource where people come for Antigua and Barbuda song lyrics, writer listings, media history, artist obits. etc. Needless to say, there’s no evidence that anyone took me up on that (suggestion about ways to encourage students especially to engage with the Internet in more productive ways – creating content not just consuming it).

When I Google Antiguan and Barbudan writers the data base here on Wadadli Pen is at least in the top three, but at the top of the list (not surprisingly) is Wikipedia. Second is Antigua and Barbuda’s largest online platform where my CREATIVE SPACE series is syndicated for just that reason (Antiguanice.com) – sharing an article from a popular US LitHub in which Antiguan and Barbudan writer (me) is mentioned.

Incidentally, the featured images on Google were of three writers and two athletes of international renown who’ve had biographies written and/or co-written biographies about them.

On Wikipedia, the Antigua and Barbuda listing has three sub-categories and two pages – the two pages being for author Jamaica Kincaid (obviously) and Melvin Claxton (?) whom I will definitely have to look in to. But moving on for now to the first of the listed categories, I find five listings – can you guess? – Jamaica Kincaid, Marie Elena John (the only listed novelist – Kincaid is also a novelist but only John is cross-referenced in the Antiguan and Barbudan novelists sub-category), sisters Anne Hart Gilbert and Elizabeth Hart Thwaites, and Zahra Airall (also the only writer listed in the Antigua and Barbuda dramatists and playwrights sub-category): all legit listings but only a fraction of potential legit listings. Some of it is about incomplete listing and/or tagging as there are Antiguan and Barbudan writers (like Ashley Bryan whose parents are from Antigua and Barbuda, and like Althea Prince and Eileen Hall who were born and raised in Antigua and whose families go back generations in Antigua) who can be found on Wikipedia but are only recognized as American writers (or Canadian, in the case of Prince).

Since I’m at Wikipedia, I do one additional search ‘Caribbean Writers’ (re-directed to Caribbean Literature) which has a breakdown by country. Checking ‘Antigua and Barbuda’ (listed as ‘Antigua’ only), I find three names – Jamaica Kincaid, Marie Elena John, and Joanne C. Hillhouse (me – in red – signalling – no page). Here’s the thing, as I explained to Carol in conversation about her original post, the rules per my understanding, and I actually agree with them, are that you shouldn’t create (actually not so much a rule as “strongly discouraged” as it turns out) nor update (“acceptable” under very specific circumstances) a Wikipedia page about yourself.

Carol, who had edited other people’s pages, but not even looked at her own (which I can relate to) actually promoted self-editing (as seen in the original Caribbean Reads post) – Caribbean artistes, she said, are self-promotion shy.  My general feeling is this is true (re being self-promotion shy) – it’s something I’ve had to and still work to overcome in order to get the word out about my books as a writer from a small place for whom no one was (is) checking nor making space.

(Me at the Miami Book Fair in 2018…it took some time but I landed there finally and hope to be invited back)

You’ve got to build a brand, all my research told me, when I was fighting to get my first two books (The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight) back in print and trying to find representation for my third book and first full length novel (Oh Gad!). I did so (Google me). But my reason for not building a Wikipedia page for myself is not about that reluctance to self-promote. It’s about my belief that for the platform to be stronger as a resource, an encyclopedia, even one so open about who can contribute and update content, said content should be objectively written by people who deem you a necessary part of the public discourse based on the work you’ve done or the celebrity you’ve earned. Otherwise it’s just …facebook. That doesn’t mean I won’t correct or request corrections if there is ever such a page (as Carol points out, one reason for artistes to engage is to ensure that their page reflects their full accomplishments and does not do them harm with false claims). But as I have no page, it’s not been an issue.

How you choose to engage with Wikipedia is, of course, up to you. I do think I could do more to share some of the content I have researched about Antiguan and Barbudan, and Caribbean writers – but it’s a time issue. Still, I’ll see what I can do – I’ll try to do better. If you’re a writer and you opt to add or edit your own content, Carol and I both emphasize being factual – and, I would add, include (for all our students’ sake) proper citations. And I do hope that our schools, research institutions, librarians, and individuals in the Caribbean will plant as much as they consume online so that our Caribbean landscape (and not just literary arts) can have more of a presence on the information superhighway. Also, so that there is more content from our specific knowing (note I said knowing, emphasizing provable/verifiable data-driven content sharing) available to Caribbean and other researchers (including media and students).

Thoughts?

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Carib Plus Lit News Round Up (early June 2019)

Musical Youth and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, my award winning teen/young adult novel and one of my children’s picture book, have been added to the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism #whatcoollookslike campaign. Best of Books is offering 20 percent off both books all summer long, while stocks last.

Pulitzer winning African-American writer Alice Walker (The Colour Purple) recently told Vincentian writer N. C. Marks whose book Plastered in Pretty was previously announced on this blog: “I’m reading Pretty and I’m loving it. It’s fresh, you are writing for these times. I also like the fact that you spoke in your language.” One celebrated writer showing an up and coming writer some love. Read about it here.

ETA: TnT writer Andre Bagoo was spotted on the long list for the Alpine Fellowship.

Bahamian writer Alexia Tolas is the Caribbean winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize – here her hometown paper catches up with the writer (I get an unexpected shout out from the winning writer). Looking forward to reading her story and the other short listed entries.

Also having a moment is Barbadian writer Shakirah Bourne whose first novel, My Fishy Stepmom, a Burt title, debuts this year; and who took the time, in this post, to share how she landed an agent. She references how a post about my own Burt adventure encouraged her to go for it (another unexpected shout out). Shakirah’s post has been added to the Wadadli Pen Resources page where writers can find tips for navigating the world of writing, publishing, presenting…and getting paid.

Also see our recent congrats posts to Danielle Boodoo Fortune and Kendel Hippolyte.

Finally, in acknowledgment of the New Daughters of Africa‘s original publication in the UK and the subsequent publication of US and South Africa editions, and the forthcoming Nigeria edition and UK audio book edition, I’d like to share that I am currently reading my contributor copy and really enjoying much of what I’m reading. Some of the Caribbean people I’ve read so far are: Trinidadian Barbara Jenkins’ A Perfect Stranger (“I stumbled to the bathroom – communal baths and showers – closed the door to a bath cubicle sat on the edge of a bathtub and cried.”), Trinidadian Elizabeth Nunez’ Discovering My Mother (“My mother told me the story about the first time she felt belittled by my father.”), Grenadian Verna Wilkins’ A Memory Evoked (“As the steelband rhythms died away I was aware, more than ever of the influence of y father on my own life.”), Jamaican Yvonne Bailey-Smith’s Meeting Mother (“Why would anyone want to live underground? Surely that was a place for the dead!”), Bermudian Angela Barry’s (“A choking fury flared in Susan’s chest.”), Bahamian Marion Bethel’s We were Terrestrial Once, Maybe and Of Cowrie Shells & Revolution (“But the sea-green leather strip/of cowrie shell was too too wide & long/for my rational hips- “), Jamaican Beverley Bryan’s A Windrush Story (“The morning Marva left all the leading figures of Priestman’s River came with their last-minute messages for family in England, as was the custom.”), Jamaica’s Carolyn Cooper with Finding Romance Online in 2018 (“What I admire about the typical Jamaican man is his absolute confidence in his masculinity. From yu name man, yu can get any woman!”), Jamaican Patricia Cumper’s Just So Much a Body can Take (“ETHEL: So hungry for the sunlight, is like it a go mad mi…”), Jamaica-born Ifeona Fulani’s Three Islands, Two Cities: The Making of a Black/Caribbean/Woman Writer/Scholar (“After one ear in Jamaica I returned to London, resigned from my job and sold my house.”), Bahamian poet Patricia Glinton-Meicholas’ Remebering, Re-membering, Slavery Redux, and Woman Unconquerable (“Go ahead, Lords of Fraud/and tainted tenure/repossess the kaprang/foreclose the shack.”), Jamaica-born Carmen Harris’ Hello…Goodbye (“With excitement, I raised the lid, inhaling the decades-old nostalgia of the island years.”), and… well, I’m only 170 pages in (this one’s a marathon read with more than 200 women of African descent from all over the motherland and diaspora).

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Congrats, Danielle

Is it the year of Danielle? We think it might be.

Winning the Bocas Poetry Prize
Winning continuing critical acclaim (like this one in T & T’s Newsday) for the book in question Doe Songs
Winning the mommy lottery with the June birth of her second child

Above, Danielle is pictured (in the picture that prompted this post) at the Bocas Literary Festival facilitating a children’s workshop with my book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which she illustrated as visual aid

Pictured immediately above is one of the characters from Lost! and Danielle and her first born with Lost!

Danielle is also Wadadli Pen fam having contributed copies of her art-branded journals and having judged (2014-2015) in the past. We love to see her soar.

p.s. check out her Etsy shop.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Congrats, Kendel

With this post, we shout out (somewhat belatedly) Caribbean author, St. Lucian Kendel Hyppolyte. His seventh collection, Word Planting, comes via Peepal Tree Press.

“He is quite simply amongst the very best of Caribbean poets who warrant an international reputation.  Kendel Hippolyte’s poetry moves easily, boldly between the worlds of public engagement and the intimacies of domesticity. What unites this movement are the distinctive sounds and rhythms of his voice, and whilst some poems have a named recipient, and some are addressed to himself, all engage the reader in an implicit dialogue.”

In addition to being an award winning poet, Kendel is also a celebrated playwright, director, and anthologist.

I like origins stories and a desire to share a quote from Kendel, from a recent interview, in which he discussed his origins as a writer, among other things, prompted this post. Here it is:

“I was a shy child and having to go and stand in front of a class and read something, especially something personal like that – horror! But disobeying the teacher was out of the question so i somehow reached the front of the class with my exercise book and i read the poem. (A very attentive audience, my memory tells me, but no doubt attentive for reasons other than the pleasure of poetry.) i finished reading … And the class burst into spontaneous applause! Not a bad introduction to the world of composing poetry and performing it.” Read the full interview here.

Oh and I’m not trying to hog his spotlight but the only picture I have of Kendel is this one from the Caribbean Congress of Writers event in Guadeloupe.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Antiguan and Barbudan Authors at St. Martin Book Fair

 

That’s Antiguan and Barbuda writer/trainer/bookseller/WadadliPenpartner Barbara Arrindell (centre) and poet/writer/SpillingInkmember Olsfred James (right), with Shujah Reiph, co-organizer at the St. Martin Book Fair. They were 2019 guests of the 17th annual iteration of the Fair which wrapped on Saturday 8th June 2019.

Other participants included Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, a former St. Martin education minister and author (Language, Culture and Identity in St. Martin), US/USVI media executive of Anguillan descent Peter Bailey, Vincentian author of Plastered in Pretty N. C. Marks, award winning Jamaican author, essayist, and poet Professor Kei Miller (Fear of Stones to Augustown), Dr. Opal Palmer Adisa who is also a celebrated Jamaican writer (It Begins with Tears etc.), another beloved Jamaican author, resident in the US, Geoffrey Philp (Garvey’s Ghost et al), Barbados-based dramatist and lecturer Dr. Yvonne Weeks, among several others.

James (whose Spilling Ink has published two Ashes books and some poetry chapbooks), per the official programme, participated in an evening of Poetry at the Poets Lounge and an open discussion with students at the University of Miami.

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Arrindell (author of The Legend of Bat’s Cave and Other Stories, and Antigua My Antigua) co-coordinated a reading and spelling competition. Having been a guest of the Fair in 2015, I doubt that’s all they did.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator).

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The Commonwealth Caribbean pick is…

‘A 27-year-old Bahamian writer has been named the Caribbean winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Alexia Tolas, whose short story “Granma’s Porch” was selected for the award, said she was in disbelief when she received the notification a few weeks ago that she was the regional winner for the literary prize.

“When I found out it was via email, of course, and it was in the middle of the school day so I started to scream,” said Tolas, who works as a literature teacher at Tambearly International School.

“My co-worker she was like, ‘Are you okay?’

“I am like, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I just bucked my toe.’

“I was like I just bucked my toe on the furniture or something because I was like I can’t tell anybody, so it was amazing. When I got home, I did tell one person. I told my husband.”

“Granma’s Porch” is a Bahamian coming-of-age tale told through the eyes of a young Bahamian girl, according to Tolas.

She said the story explores several themes including emotional and sexual abuse, neglect and identity.

“It’s about a young girl just experiencing her first love but just the intricacies of what that means in a Caribbean context, specifically an island context,” Tolas said.

“It’s a lot more difficult for us, especially coming with experiences from our family, experiences in poverty, experiences in neglect and abuse. So, what do all of those experiences do in us making our decision, in us moving forward in adulthood?”

She added, “The protagonist is a young girl, so everything is coming from her eyes. She’s not the most reliable narrator. She doesn’t really understand how the world works, so every decision she makes, every theory she comes up with, is given to her by the people around her.”’ READ ON.

1  c.jpgAlexia is pictured, left, with sci fi author Karen Lord, right, who co-facilitated a Commonwealth-sponsored workshop we both participated in last year.

Congrats, Alexia. And thanks for the shout out!

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Oh Gad!, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All rights reserved. Subscribe to this site to keep up with future updates.

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Re Resources, Opportunities, and More

teaser flyer 2The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize blog has evolved beyond being a platform for the project aimed at nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, beyond being a literary portal vis-à-vis arts from Antigua and Barbuda, and even the Caribbean, beyond being a catch-all for things artistic, into a being a resource for writers anywhere. This is in part due to my natural interests and activities as an Antiguan and Barbudan writer with designs and some headway on an international career both as a creative writer and as a writer-editor-coach-trainer. As I research, I share; as I learn, I teach.

The resources on this site have, therefore, grown in step with my own development as Wadadli Pen founder and chief blogger, and as a published author and working writer-content-creator-editor-et-al.

I’d like to point you to three pages in particular and to one of our series. They’re updated periodically but you might not be aware of that so I would suggest either bookmarking them or searching for them from time to time so that you can pull what you need when you need.

Page 1 is the Opportunities Page where I have listed and/or linked information on copyright, processing feedback, coping with rejection, submitting to literary magazines, contracts, our workshop space etc. – but which primarily itemizes information vis-à-vis contests and awards, markets, paying it forward (or how you can help someone else access an opportunity), programmes, project funding, and publishers (specifically Caribbean publishers and/or publishers I think have some relevance to  content from the Caribbean – though I will say that there is a whole world of publishers out there and no barriers to you pursuing them provided you do the research and tailor your pitch/query letter appropriately).

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Page 2 is an outgrowth of the Opportunities Page and, as such, is called Opportunities Too. This is one of the most dynamic pages on the Wadadli Pen blog as it is constantly being updated with opportunities as I am always scouting for opportunities myself. As deadlines pass – for story submissions, fellowships, residencies, grants, competitions, etc., new ones are added. This is not just for writers by the way – but can includes deadlines for artistes or just academic or creative opportunities for young people. Obviously we emphasize stuff available to Antiguan and Barbudan and wider Caribbean people but it’s not exclusive to that – not by a long shot.

Page 3 is the Resources Page which is a page I send people to often as it grew out of all the questions I would get asked about writing and publishing when I was (as I am ever) still trying to figure it all out. I remember freelancing in isolation not realizing how much freelancers from other places grappled with all the same things I did – pricing, negotiating, beating back imposter syndrome when writing and negotiating, for instance. On this page you will find things like “We also are helping out our fellow freelance writers. If one of us pushes back and gets a contract changed, that may make it easier for other writers to negotiate in the future” linking to an article on the ‘5 Red Flags to Look for in a Contract’.  This particular article grabbed me because it spoke to the ongoing struggle to insist on the value of what you do to yourself and to the person on the other side of the negotiation, gives you practical strategies for navigating the negotiation process, and makes the larger point that the value you put to what you do can affect the next person doing what they do (very important). So this page is an attempt to share all the things you need to know if you write and publish from any where to any where in the world. This is for both authors and other working writers, and is sub-divided into authors – getting paid; copyright; on the hustle – tips for freelance writers; publishing – books; publishing – journals, anthologies; publishing – promotion; writing; and x-tras (for those things that don’t fit anywhere). It’s links to all the questions I never knew to ask when I started on this crazy journey and all the questions I get asked as someone doing something that other people may be trying to figure out (even as I’m still figuring it out myself).

Page 4 is the Reading Room and Gallery Series. I admit to being confounded by people who write (or want to write) but who don’t read. How does that work? The Reading Room and Gallery Series is evidence that my book reading is slower than I would like (though I’m still reading and blogging books) but I’m always reading something because I love to read, because I learn from reading (about the thing I’m reading about, about us as people, and about the craft of writing – for starters). So in this space I share stories and poems that spoke to me or impacted me in some way; but because I am an eternal art nerd, I also enjoy reading or learning about how the sausage gets made – so I share author interviews, discussions on art, and more in that vain as well. It’s not just literary or super serious stuff either. It is though, I hope, always illuminating. The series is up to 34 installments and growing; so, go, read.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and With Grace; and freelance writer-editor-writing-coach-and-course-and-workshop-facilitator). Find me at Jhohadli. All Rights Reserved.

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